Visitor Visas for the United States

Information about tourist and business visas to the USA

What are B1/B2 American visas?

There are three types of nonimmigrant tourist visas for the USA: B1 visas (for business), B2 visas (for tourism or medical treatment), and combination B1/B2 visas (when the reason for visiting is business and tourism (and/or medical treatment).

Citizens of PRC need to obtain one of these types of visas, and register with EVUS, in order to visit the USA. An EVUS visa is attached to a specific B1/B2 visa and cannot be transferred from an expired visa to a new one.

The U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security follow a strict process. The B1/B2 US visa application is much more thorough and normally involves a formal interview at a US embassy or consulate. There are a number of US tourist visa requirements.

What is a B2 Tourist Visa for the USA?

A B2 visitor visa is issued to applicants who wish to travel to the United States for tourism or medical treatment. This is a short-term nonimmigrant visa, usually valid for 6 months. B2 visa holders are allowed to engage in the following activities during their stay in the US.

  • Tourism
  • Vacations
  • Visiting friends or relatives
  • Receiving medical treatment
  • Engaging in social activities
  • Participating in amateur sports, music, or other, similar events.

B2 visas do not allow visitors to engage in temporary or permanent work. It is necessary to obtain a US Work Visa to be able to receive payment.

What is a B1 Business Visa USA for?

The B1 Business Visa is issued to those who wish to travel to the United States for a business-related purpose. Applicants must meet certain B1 visa eligibility requirements in order to be able to successfully apply. B1 Business visas normally allow stays of up to six months and allow visitors to engage in the following activities:

  • Negotiating a contract
  • Settling an estate
  • Consulting and meeting business associates
  • Attending conferences or conventions for scientific, business, educational or professional reasons
  • Conducting research
  • Interviewing and hire staff members
  • Participating in an event as a lecturer or a speaker
  • Taking part in short-term training

Visitors entering with a B1 US Visa cannot carry out any paid activity. To be able to work in the U.S. and receive payment, they require an American Work Visa. The class of a Work Visa varies and depends on a range of factors including the candidate’s skills, nationality, education and qualifications, and profession.

Validity and duration of stay allowed for B1/B2 visas

The US tourist visa duration depends on the needs of the traveler and what is permitted by the authorities. The validity period ranges between one and ten years and it can be used multiple times over this period as long as the total number of days spent in the US is not longer than 180 days in any year duration.

The standard length of stay for a B1/B2 visa is 6 months though the maximum length is one year. It is possible to extend the duration to a year if you are originally issued a visa with a six-month maximum duration. It is necessary to provide a range of supporting documentation including proof that you can finance your stay.

Different Types of American Visas

Aside from EVUS, there are numerous different types of US tourist visas. Citizens of 38 countries can enroll with ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) and there are also a number of American visas that are designed for other nationalities.

EVUS visas are specifically designed for citizens of the PRC (People’s Republic of China). Chinese citizens need to obtain a B1/B2 non-immigrant visa (in order to travel there for tourism, business, or medical treatment) in addition to enrolling with EVUS.

What are ESTA US Tourist Visas?

ESTA is not technically a visa. It is a US VWP (Visa Waiver Program) which has been designed to be simple and quick to apply for. It is designed for tourism and business purposes.

ESTA visas are valid for two consecutive years and they allow for trips of up to 90 consecutive days. Visitors can enter the U.S. multiple times with ESTA as long as the total number of days spent in the country does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.

The ESTA application usually takes around 15 minutes to complete per applicant. Once it has been submitted and approved, the applicant receives an electronic copy by email. Applications are normally processed within 72 hours.

ESTA is a visa waiver, meaning that it is not necessary to apply for a conventional visa in addition to ESTA. The ESTA visa waiver is linked to a specific passport. If your passport expires before the two year validity period, it is necessary to apply for another ESTA.

ESTA countries: a full list

Following is the full ESTA countries list. All foreign nationals who hold a passport from any of the countries listed below are eligible to apply for ESTA.

Andorra Australia Austria Belgium Brunei
Chile Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland
France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland
Ireland Italy Japan Latvia Liechtenstein
Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Mónaco Netherlands
New Zealand Norway Portugal San Marino Singapore
Slovakia Slovenia South Korea Spain Sweden
Switzerland Taiwan United Kingdom

FAQs about US Visas

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